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Most young Washington kids not in preschool, report finds

A report found just 43% of three- and four-year-olds in Washington are going to preschool. Nationally, 48% are in school.

Just four in 10 Washington three- and four-year-olds attend preschool, which is slightly worse than the national average, according to a report from a national children’s foundation.

The finding was one of a dozen in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2019 KIDS COUNT report on child well-being across the U.S, which was released Monday.

Washington ranked 29th across the U.S. in education based on preschool attendance, reading and math proficiency, and on-time graduation.

In 2015-2017, 57% of preschool-aged children were not in school in Washington, which is down from 59% six years ago. There is further disparity among children of color; the report found 69% of Latino children and 64% of black children didn’t attend preschool in 2015-2017 compared to 56% of white children.

Studies have shown that preschool education can help improve how many kids are prepared for kindergarten, especially at-risk children.

The foundation says while Washington has increased the number of children attending preschool, 36 other states have made greater strides.

Just 8% of Washington kids have access to a publicly funded, high-quality preschool, according to the report.

Last year Seattle voters approved the Families, Education, and Preschool Promise Levy, which will raise $620 million for education, preschools, and community college education. One of the goals of the levy is to increase the number of children in preschool by 80%.

RELATED: Mayor Durkan says Seattle's preschool program is one of best in nation

The report also looked at economic well-being, health, and family and community. Washington ranked 11th in the U.S. for health, making improvements in the percentage of children who have health insurance. It ranked 16th for family, which included family makeup and living situation.

Data for Washington's KIDS COUNT comes from a partnership between the Children's Alliance and the Washington State Budget and Policy Center. Their goal is to use the latest data to take action on issues ranging from education to health care.

Jon Gould from Children's Alliance says the best way to get involved is to send a message to your Senator or Representative. Call their toll-free hotline at 1-800-562-6000 (TTY for hearing impaired 800-833-6388). They also offer interpreter services for different languages. You can leave a brief message on your concerns or questions for your district legislators or for the Governor.

WATCH | Seattle Preschool Program aims to provide high-quality, affordable preschool Editor's note: The video below originally aired in 2018.

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